Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The best idea for a Tampa Bay Rays stadium might be a joint effort

Here's what we do. We dredge up a new island smack in the middle of Tampa Bay. We run an exit ramp to it off the Howard Frankland Bridge.

And there's where we build a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, with both the Hillsborough and Pinellas sides chipping in.

Heck, this should cost only a couple of billion extra. Maybe we can get the feds to call it a "stimulus" project.

Don't like the island scheme? Okay, here's Plan B.

We settle on the best spot in Pinellas County for a new stadium, and the best spot in Hillsborough. Again, both sides sign a deal in advance saying they will chip in.

Then we meet in the middle of the Howard Frankland — and flip a coin.

Both of these fantasies involve a multicounty effort. Heck, why stop there? Let's get some dough from Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota, too.

If that sounds crazy, well, it's only crazy by Tampa Bay standards. That kind of regional cooperation is normal in some places.

Why shouldn't it be? Sports teams have regional identity. They provide regional benefits. A team's fan base doesn't stop at a county line.

But here, we go it alone. Raymond James Stadium or the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa are "ours" (if you live in Hillsborough) and Tropicana Field is "theirs." Or vice versa. I didn't hear many people in Pinellas crying out to help pay for a Bucs stadium or a Lightning arena, nor many in Tampa for baseball in St. Petersburg.

If we build a stadium at all, the main issues of course are: (1) Where? (2) Who pays for it?

A couple of things happened last week that fired up this discussion. The first was lackluster attendance at what was expected to be a marquee showdown between the Rays and their rivals in last year's World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies.

In a rare shot across the public's bow, the Rays pronounced themselves "bewildered" at the lukewarm showing. Critics crowed that it was proof St. Petersburg is not "a baseball city" and the team should be moved to Tampa.

I dunno. The top AL East rivals draw pretty well, don't they? Maybe the World Series rematch just didn't have the allure the Rays had hoped for. Overall attendance is up 23 percent for the year so far; doesn't that count?

As if on cue, the Phillies series was followed by the news that the private-sector committee studying a new stadium, A Baseball Community, is considering three sites in Hillsborough as well as downtown St. Petersburg and mid Pinellas.

So, what happens if the group recommends a site outside of St. Petersburg? Will that city vow to fight? If the site is in mid Pinellas, will the county rush to foot the bill? If it's Hillsborough, will the city and county leaders there eagerly embrace the idea of being on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars?

I still think that this process will, by default, result either in a mid Pinellas site, more easily accessible to Hillsborough, or will end up back in downtown St. Petersburg. But under our go-it-alone model, the people of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County will bear all the financial burden again for a regional sports franchise — unless Tampa and Hillsborough, just because they are such nice guys, offer to chip in anyway. Riiight.

That island in the middle of the bay is starting to look better.

The best idea for a Tampa Bay Rays stadium might be a joint effort 06/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 4:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.